Svalbard is one of the most beautiful regions on our planet. This land of mountains and tundra, glaciers and ice is home to a wealth of species, all set in the most inspiring landscape.
In July 2010, we traveled with 12 friends in a yacht and our trips itinerary was to experience Svalbard, but with the number one goal of getting to the pack ice to find polar bears.
This 25 day arctic adventure truly lived up to its name with some amazing photography, stunning settings and a reminder just how precious the polar regions are.
It took us over a week to get to the pack ice, but once there the sightings and opportunities for photography where amazing. The total number of bears that we saw throughout the trip was 31 which was an incredible number. I will never forget an amazing hour and a half with three polar bears in the pack ice at almost 81 degrees north, a real highlight among many.
Polar bears really are the symbol of the high arctic and to see them in their natural environment is one of the great spectacles of the natural world.
The bears that we encountered on the pack ice were in much better condition than the ones on land and life seemed easier for them.
Another target was to explore the many glaciers that can be found in Svalbard. Working from a yacht allows us to get very close to the glacier fronts which abounds with wildlife during the summer months. Many species of birds come to feed as the fresh water run-off from the glacier mixes with salt water which produces valuable food sources for millions of copepods.
The great thing about a yacht is how quite it is, so we could get very close to the many birds. The other important factor is how low you are to the surface so your images have a more intimate feel to the final outcome.
The most beautiful icebergs are the blue ones where the ice is deeply compressed. We found two of these special sculptures of ice and again we were lucky to find birds like fulmars and guillemots feeding at the base.